A MOTHER-OF-THREE who fraudulently claimed more than £30,000 in benefits has been jailed for nine months.
Gemma Louise Carcel (34) collected a total of £33,314.46 to which she was not entitled over the course of a four-year period, which Relief Magistrate David Le Cornu described as ‘a fraud on all of us’.
Advocate Simon Crowder, prosecuting, said Carcel had failed to tell the authorities about an insurance pay-out of more than £20,000 she had received and regular payments she was getting towards child support – all information that the Social Security Department should have been made aware of.
The Magistrate’s Court heard that Carcel had been legitimately claiming income support between 2008 and 2016, when the father to two of her children was killed in a road crash in Australia and she received an insurance payment of more than £20,000.
Advocate Crowder added: ‘There were also quarterly payments for child maintenance from her ex-partner’s estate.’
The social security department must be informed of a claimant’s full financial circumstances before they can make payments.
Advocate Crowder said: ‘She didn’t divulge all the relevant circumstances.
‘She wasn’t entitled to the full amount of income support she had been given. It was a lengthy period of offending.’
Advocate James Bell, defending, suggested that the four-year period during which Carcel had been falsely claiming was a mitigating factor.
He said: ‘This was a large amount of money but it was paid over a long period of time. When you break it down, the amounts are small.’
He said that from 2008 she had been claiming income support legitimately but said: ‘Eight years later things would go awry. She made the poor decision not to declare the Australian monies. She has been taking steps to pay back the funds.’
Advocate Bell also pointed out the risk of Carcel reoffending was low and she had written a letter of remorse. He argued the impact of imprisonment on her children would be ‘disproportionate’, and called for her to receive a community service order.
But Mr Le Cornu told Carcel: ‘You were fully aware of the information you should have declared, you knew your actions were wrong, and you knew you were committing a crime. In a small jurisdiction like Jersey, benefit fraud has a larger impact. It’s a fraud on all of us. This is too serious to warrant a community punishment outcome. You should go to prison.’